Friday, 23 March 2012
REVIEW: Jonquil - Point of Go
*Originally published for the Oxford Music Blog (23/3/12)
The closing of one chapter often allows a fresh start for the next. Jonquil are thus in the perfect position, having seen a flurry of line-up changes in recent years with three members leaving to form Trophy Wife and a new member joining the ranks. But have these new dynamics breathed the “new lease of life” that frontman Hugo Manuel had so hoped for? Certainly, but perhaps not to everyone’s taste.
Point of Go is a more light and upfront affair than Jonquil’s previous releases. With the blossoms of spring upon us, this is quite a welcoming sound; the insanely happy bubblegum tones of ‘Point of Go Pt.2’ and the 90s-inspired piano jolts on ‘Getaway’ are charming; the boo-doo-wap harmonies and fiesta drums on ‘Mexico’ have a hunger for warmer climes. Yet there is something irksome about the melodies on the album and it is difficult to pin-point why.
The LP’s first single, ‘It’s My Part’, is carried by cow bell rhythms that syncopate with an animated Foals-esque guitar and Manuel’s narcissistic lyrics, “It’s my part, and I will play it how I want”. It is a catchy song, but not the strongest choice for the album’s lead single. ‘Real Cold’ is similar in its immediacy, with bass, guitar and drums stealing the limelight from the vocals in unison and allowing mature brass instruments to embellish the melody.
‘Run’ sees a simple continuation of the many elementary pop structures that consume the record, save for its bold, reggae-inspired chorus and ‘Swells’ is a throw-away track. But with the album’s many blunders, however, comes its promises. It is the reserved tracks that ironically shed the most joy.‘Psammead’ is a pretty instrumental, laced with a forlorn piano that trails behind a desert guitar riff. It plays for just over 60 seconds, but it stays with you long after the album’s close. The progressive, ‘History Of Headaches’ projects uncanny Chad Valley (Manuel’s side project) harmonies, with Kid-A era keys and thrashing tom toms and resonates just as much as ‘Psammead.’
But it is the buyout vocals, ethereal guitars and glitch synths in, ‘This Innocent’, that really demonstrate the band’s potential, even if the song harks to Jonquil’s by-gone, edgier sound.
It is this nostalgic feeling that swamps your listening: there is something missing in their reincarnation. Their darker sound has virtually disappeared and the line-up adjustments seem to have curbed their openness to experimentation. For some listeners, this breezier sound will be an unwelcome change, but for others it is the start of an exciting new chapter.